Russians accused by United Kingdom 'victims of coincidence'

Friday, 14 Sep, 2018

Petrov and Boshirov, both charged in absentia by Britain last week for trying to kill Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Yulia, with the nerve agent Novichok, went on the Kremlin-funded RT satellite channel Thursday to proclaim their innocence, deny they were agents of the military intelligence service widely known as the GRU, and say they were merely tourists in the city southwest of London.

Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov told Russia Today (RT) they were only in Salisbury on 3 March as tourists to visit the cathedral and nearby Stonehenge.

The men, who identified themselves as Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov, denied any involvement in the attack on Sergei Skripal, a former Russian double agent, and his daughter, Yulia, in March.

Just a day after President Vladimir Putin urged them to come forward, the two Russians the United Kingdom accuses of carrying out a nerve-agent attack on a former spy denied the charges in an interview with RT state television.

A European arrest warrant has been issued for the two suspects, but British prosecutors say they will not ask Moscow to extradite Russian citizens because Russia's constitution forbids it. "We got wet, took the train and came back [to London]", the pair told RT before adding that they returned to Salisbury the following day "to see the Old Sarum and the cathedral".

The two men admitted they may have passed Mr Skripal's house by chance "but we don't know where it is located", Mr Petrov said.

On Wednesday, Vladimir Putin called for the two men to speak with the media during an economic conference in Vladivostok.

The UK has described them as agents of Russia's military intelligence service, the GRU. "I have seen nothing to suggest that has changed".

Surveillance camera footage of Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov, the two suspects in the Skripal attack, at Salisbury train station the day before Skripal collapsed.

Russian Federation has repeatedly denied any involvement in the case. Boshirov also called on the United Kingdom to apologize for the allegations, claiming their lives had been "turned upside down".

Boshirov and Petrov said they called her because they needed protection and would like an apology from Britain.

A handout picture taken at Salisbury train station in Salisbury, west of London on March 3, 2018, and released by the British Metropolitan Police Service in London on September 5, 2018, shows Alexander Petrov (R) and Ruslan Boshirov. Russian Federation has repeatedly denied those claims.

Despite being filmed "moments before" the botched hit before leaving the country hours later in a flight out of Heathrow, the brazen Russians claimed they spent "no more than an hour" in Salisbury. We know who they are, we have found them already.

The two added that they had planned to visit London on their trip, but a snowstorm hindered their plans. Boshirov asked, addressing the allegations that the two had carried a Soviet-produced nerve agent allegedly used in the Skripal poisonings in a Nina Ricci perfume box, and smeared some of the contents on the front door of Sergei Skripal's Salisbury home.

They also confirmed that they had travelled to Europe before. Why would two decent guys be walking around with women's perfume?

Chris Phillips, the former head of the National Counter Terrorism Security Office said: "We trust those countries to do things the right way".